Here's something strange:
Online reputation monitoring should be practiced by all individuals and brands no matter what industry they're in.
As a matter of fact, we consider it one of the most important pieces of the online reputation puzzle, so much so that it's one of the core features of our reputation management software.
However, most people don't do it well (or at all).
Any idea why?
Because they just don't know they should! Online reputation monitoring isn't as flashy as social media promotion, SEO, or PPC, so no one talks about it.
Here's a shot of Google trends "interest over time" for these four topics:
The red line is SEO, yellow is PPC, and blue is social media. Oh and that green line hugging the bottom? That's online reputation monitoring.
So why is this?
The possibility of more customers and social media followers makes the practices above much more appealing than monitoring your brand.
However, if you don't know what's being said about you online you'll still take a hit in your personal and professional life.
Whether it's a potential customer, employer, or date, your online reputation has a lot of influence in how you're perceived. This makes online reputation monitoring a necessity.
Not sold yet? Imagine this:
As you know, building up your reputation and brand online is an ongoing process. It requires time, hustle, and perseverance.
Let's say you've done all of this. You've stuck with it and have been diligent about building a strong foundation of online properties that look super spiffy.
You decide you want to put things on cruise control and focus on getting some more Twitter followers for a while (gotta get verified right?). You spend your time here and don't monitor your online reputation.
Something negative gets written about you on a small blog. That article gets indexed by Google and starts showing up when anyone searches your name.
Now people are seeing this article and start talking about it. They're sharing it on social media and discussing it on industry forums.
To make matters worse, this article is now encouraging others who might not be your biggest fans to start leaving negative reviews about you on other sites.
That spotless reputation you had a while ago? Gone. Now anyone who interacts with your brand online is seeing this. Customers are second-guessing their purchases and the potential job offer you were in the running for from that big-time firm uptown is long gone.
Sound extreme? It really isn't. Negative sentiment can build up quickly online and it's your job to monitor your online reputation before it becomes a serious problem.
It's not like these are rare occurrences either. Across all industries, individuals and businesses find themselves in similar situations daily. And often times this kind of disaster could have been avoided.
Simply monitoring their online reputations could have prevented all of it. That's why we've put together this resource, so you can be sure something similar won't happen to you.
What exactly is online reputation monitoring?
Online reputation monitoring refers to the process of tracking a person or company's presence on the web.
Online reputation monitoring is all-inclusive. So, in addition to looking at how a brand is portrayed in search results, it also follows how the brand appears across social media platforms and even community forums.
Whether it's the content that your brand controls or what others are saying about you, brand reputation monitoring combs all digital sources for every possible mention of your name.
Why does it matter?
We touched on the importance of this a little earlier, but here are some more details and benefits:
If you don't stay current with your brand online and acknowledge what people are saying about you, you're playing a dangerous game.
While it might not come back to bite you right away (this is usually why people don't start in the first place), over time something will come up.
Whether it's a negative article, unfounded harsh review, or unflattering feedback you haven't addressed, this type of information can negatively affect your brand.
If you aren't aware that this kind of harmful information exists, you can't face the problem head on, and most importantly, the information will continue to hurt you going forward.
On the flip side, if you do choose to monitor your online reputation, you will benefit in a number of ways. First of all, you'll have the opportunity to further improve your brand by responding right away to positive (or negative) feedback. You need to at least be aware of the current conversations surrounding your brand so that you can make an educated decision about how/if you want to respond.
Monitoring your online reputation also lets you keep track of what you're doing that others respond to!
This is actionable information that you can apply to other aspects of your brand.
You can stay engaged with your growing audience and help build a loyal following.
If the feedback is negative, you will be able to respond quickly before things get out of hand.
Negativity can spread at a rapid pace online and by responding immediately you can nip an issue in the bud - or prevent things from escalating in the first place.
What should you watch?
As you can see, online reputation monitoring is critical when it comes to building and maintaining an effective brand on the web.
A lot goes into properly monitoring your reputation online, but the following sources top the list:
Social media platforms
Keep tabs on what people say about you or your brand on social media. If it's negative, take steps to fix the problem or resolve the issue.
If it's positive, reach out and say thanks! If someone has a question, give them a thoughtful answer or link them to a resource (preferably your own) that provides more clarity. All of these are very easy to take care of when you are aware of what's happening on social when it comes to your brand.
In addition to monitoring what others are saying about your brand on social media, take a look at your own behavior on those platforms.
Be critical about where you can improve
If you only use Twitter to share your latest blog posts, that's something to improve on - try to engage more with other users!
Look for missed opportunities to connect with your followers or others in your industry. Take note of things you did that worked well on social media for repeated success in the future.
News websites, blogs, and other sites
Monitoring for mentions of your name on these sites is another important part of the process. If the content is negative, check to see if it's gaining any traction with the site's readership. You can do this easily by checking the comments and responses to the article on social media.
If the mention is positive, go the extra mile to reach out to the writer and thank them. You can also interact in the comment section if readers are discussing the article.
This is an extremely effective way to earn your brand new fans and advocates.
Online reputation monitoring for a brand relies heavily on tracking review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor.
Consumers are visiting these sites more and more when they are looking to do business with a brand or individual.
Not only are these sites viewed as a standard part of the research process, they are heavily trusted sources. This makes getting great reviews and ratings on these sites a must.
There are a lot of review sites out there, so it's important to know which ones to focus on. You will likely want to monitor larger sites like Yelp and Google My Business, but there are smaller industry-specific review sites that you will want to incorporate as well.
For example, if you run an apartment complex you will want to monitor sites like apartments.com and apartmentratings.com.
If you do not know where to start for your industry, a quick Google search can get you heading in the right direction.
Search for reviews in your industry, and also search your own brand in Google. The review sites that show up on the first and second page will be worth keeping an eye on.
The search results that appear for your name or brand are another important piece of the puzzle.
People turn to search engines like Google to look up information all the time. Because of this, negative content and bad reviews that show up in your search results will reflect poorly on your brand.
When it comes to organic search results, they don't just go away quickly on their own. It takes knowledge of search engine optimization and an investment of time to clean things up.
Because of this, incorporating search results into your online reputation monitoring strategy will help you make the most of your time and attack a problem as soon as it appears.
You can also use this information to keep tabs on low-ranking negative and irrelevant content that might be creeping up in the search engine rankings, so you can hopefully step in and stop its progress.
How to monitor these easily
While it may seem impossible to keep tabs on any and every mention of your name online, there are tools that can help you with just that.
We've built one over here at BrandYourself that covers the essentials, and we will also list a couple other options for you as well.
Our Reputation Management Software
Online reputation monitoring with our reputation management software is about as easy as it gets. Whether you are a free or premium user, our software identifies potentially harmful links and tracks them once you have confirmed how dangerous they are.
BrandYourself's product also shows the most important steps you can take to give your profiles a better chance of ranking well in search engine results.
We've also recently created an additional feature to our reputation management software product called, "Social Scanner" so that you can comb through the content that you control to make sure that you are portraying yourself in the best light possible.
Social Scanner lets you connect your own social media profiles like Facebook and Twitter so that our software can find anything you may have posted in the past that could come back to haunt you - or portray you or your beliefs in a way that may not be accurate.
How to monitor other sources for free
Our software does a great job of tracking indexed pages in Google and looking for red flags on your social media properties.
If you want to track more specific sources (like forums for example), here are some options for you as well. Just like our reputation management software, they won’t cost you anything.
This is a great tool by Google that allows you to enter in specific terms you want to keep an eye on. All you have to do is go to their page and enter your name or brand. After that you will be automatically notified via email of new content that’s being published to the web about you so you can monitor your brand easily. It’s really that simple.
This is similar to Google Alerts in the way that it gives you results based on specific search queries, but it has a couple of neat additions.
With this Social Mention, you can monitor brand strength, sentiment, passion, and reach. Brand strength and reach are both things that you can get from other sources and the accuracy of this information is a bit more fluid since it’s a tough thing to apply a set number too.
However, the sentiment and passion data is really where you can get some great insights. Being able to get a quick glimpse of this information will always be extremely helpful.
Bookmarking + Chrome user hack
This is a little hack that you can do to quickly view a specific group of web properties without spending a lot of time. We recommend using the Google Chrome web browser for this, so all of the steps will be for that browser specifically.
Put together a list of sites you want to monitor. You can be as specific as you want with this. A competitor’s Yelp page, specific forum threads, anything you want. Once you have this list it’s time to get Chrome set up with another user.
In the top right corner of your Google Chrome window you will see a little “person” button. Click that and then select “switch person” next. This will automatically create another Chrome user for you to use strictly for online reputation monitoring.
When you have selected this new user, go to your settings under the menu (the three dot button) and find the “on startup” section. From there, check the “open a specific page or set of pages” option and then click the “set pages” link.
In here you can now drop in all of the sites and web pages you want to monitor. By doing this, each time you sign in to this new user all of these pages will automatically load in the browser. This will save you a lot of time visiting each site one by one. You can easily load up this new user and get a snapshot of your online reputation by browsing through the tabs.
It’s worth mentioning that if you have a ton of pages you want to monitor (roughly more than 15) it might be a good idea to create another Chrome user for the rest. This will prevent you from potentially overwhelming your browser with loading so many new pages at once.
The sum of it
By now you should have a solid grasp on the importance of online reputation monitoring and how to get started. No matter how you decide to go about doing this, the most important thing to remember is just stay informed.
Making it a habit to check in on the status of your online reputation periodically can pay off big time for you in the future.
Being represented accurately online the next time you look for a job, interact with a customer, or go on a date will go a long way.
Sign up for our reputation management software to start monitoring your online reputation for free.